Learning to disagree can be a good thing

Disagreements in business are inevitable. When managed well, they can have lots of positive outcomes.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated work-related stress as many of us have had to suddenly shift to People naturally try to avoid disagreements in the workplace. We all tend to avoid provoking conflict due to the fear of damaging our professional reputation and our relationships with colleagues. However, if you know how to disagree effectively, the outcome can be positive.

When you and your colleagues push each other to find a better solution, the creative friction can often lead to new ideas. If you and your colleagues are arguing about which option is best, you’ll be forced to explore the pros and cons of each approach and will likely agree on a better way forward.

The key to disagreeing effectively is to maintain professionalism at all times. When you disagree with someone, start by acknowledging their view and respecting their opinion. Start with the points that you and your colleague agree on then build your case for the differences between your areas of disagreement. Remember – they will feel passionate about their approach so avoid turning the situation into a contest.

Think carefully about the outcome that you want from the situation. After all, you will still have to work with this colleague every day. Sometimes it’s best to meet in the middle and reach a compromise.

Sometimes you need to concede a few points to someone else. In this case you should be prepared to “agree to disagree”. After all, a point comes when the business needs to move forward, even with an imperfect solution.

Once you agree on a solution, the key is to encourage the whole team to move past their need to disagree and move to support the final decision. By working through disagreements together, people often build a better understanding of one another and can build improved working relationships as a result. Disagreements are a learning experience for everyone involved and over time, people learn to let things go and move on.